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KLM Royal Dutch Airlines vs. Kumzhi

KLM ROYAL DUTCH AIRLINES

V

MRS. ANNAH NANYA KUMZHI

COURT OF APPEAL

( JOS DIVISION )

OLUDADE OLADAPO OBADINA, JCA ( Presided )

CECILIA IFEYINWA NZEAKO, JCA

IKECHI FRANCIS OGBUAGU, JCA ( Read the Lead Judgment )

CA/J/216/2000

WEDNESDAY, 9TH JULY, 2003 

ACTION - Cause of action - Applicable law in the determination of

APPEAL - Issues for determination - Issues formulated by respondent in the absence of cross-appeal - Need for to arise from grounds of appeal filed by appellant

APPEAL - Issues for determination - Need for to be formulated from grounds of appeal

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW - 1999 Constitution, section 251 - Intendment of vis-a-vis other provisions conferring exclusive jurisdiction on the Federal High Court

COURT - Duty of when interpreting statute

COURT - Federal High Court - 1999 Constitution, section 251 Intendment of vis-a-vis other provisions conferring exclusive jurisdiction on the Federal High Court

COURT - Jurisdiction thereof - What determines

COURT - State High Court - Matters pending before it relating to carriage by air and meteorology prior to the commencement of the Federal High Court Act as amended by Federal High Court

( Amendment) Decree No. 60 of 1991 - Fate of

JURISDICTION - Federal High Court - Constitution,1999; section 251 - Intendment of vis-a-vis other provisions conferring exclusive jurisdiction on the Federal High Court

JURISDICTION - Importance of

JURISDICTION - What determines

LEGISLATION - Gap discovered therein - How remedied

STATUTE - Duty of court when interpreting

STATUTE - Federal High Court (Amendment) Decree No. 6 of 1991 and Constitution (Suspension and Modification) Decree No. 107 of 1993 - Intendment of

STATUTE - Gap discovered therein - How remedied

STATUTE - When can operate retrospectively WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Subject to’ - Meaning of

Issue:

Whether or not the High Court has jurisdiction to entertain and determine this suit which was filed on 14th October, 1999 in respect of a contract/transaction that was concluded in 1977.

Facts:

Respondent who was the plaintiff in the High Court suit, took out a writ of summons against the appellants who were the defendants in the said suit, claiming the total sum of N150,125,588.00 (one hundred and fifty million, one hundred and twenty-five thousand, five hundred and eighty-eight naira) being general and special damages as a result of what she described as a breach of contract of air carriage/transportation of herself/person and her goods between her and the appellants. She also asserted that the appellants breached their undertaking with her to cater for her welfare at their Dutch

Caribbean Island of Curacao where she would be in transit for about forty eight (48) hours before being conveyed by the appellants to Kingston, Jamaica. That because of this breach in the said undertaking and because of the fact that she did not have sufficient money to cater for herself during the transit period, she was declared an illegal immigrant by the immigration officials of Curacao who detained her, and she was later deported from Curacao to Kano via Amsterdam. The respondent, was at all material times to the suit leading to this appeal, a Specialist Nurse/Tutor in the employment of the Ministry of Health, Kingston, Jamaica having secured the employment under the Federal Government of Nigeria Technical Aid Committee (TAC) Programme.

Upon being served with the writ of summons, the appellants, through a motion on notice, challenged the jurisdiction of the High Court to entertain the said suit contending therein, that the suit being a matter based/ predicated/premised on a contract of the carriage of passenger and good by air, it was only the Federal High Court that has the jurisdiction, to entertain the suit. They therefore, applied, that the said suit, be struck out.

After hearing arguments from both learned counsel for the parties on 27th March, 2000, in a considered ruling delivered on 12th May, 2000, the learned trial Judge overruled the objection. The suit had been set down for hearing in view of the fact that the appellants, had not filed their statement of defence. However, after the said ruling, on the application of the learned counsel for the appellants, the appellants were given time to file their statement of defence. Thereafter, the case was fixed for hearing.

Dissatisfied with the said decision, appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal.